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PLP senator blames island’s ‘colonial status’ for controversial fishing plan

Don’t blame us: the senator Lindsay Simmons (File photograph)

A junior minister has claimed that the Government is not responsible for drawing up controversial laws to protect Bermuda’s waters from overfishing.

Instead, the senator Lindsay Simmons said that the island’s “colonial status” meant that the Government had to implement protectionist laws imposed by Britain.

In an opinion column in today’sRoyal Gazette, Ms Simmons, who is also Junior Minister of Social Development and Seniors, said that Whitehall had set ambitious targets to protect 30 per cent of its waters by 2030 — and that Bermuda was obligated to follow.

The Bermuda Ocean Prosperity Plan, which will ban fishing in 20 per cent of Bermuda waters, has been condemned by fishermen.

Ms Simmons said: “This is an international obligation made by the UK, and many other countries under existing international conventions. To meet this target, the UK initiated the Blue Belt programme for the UK and its overseas territories in 2018.

“Based on its colonial status, Bermuda remains subject to the decisions, directives and whims of the British Government.

“If, as a country, we do not assert our rights and our own vision within the confines of global requirements, we will be forced to submit to the decisions of politicians thousands of miles away from our shores.”

This newspaper e-mailed the Government and the Progressive Labour Party, asking if the protection policy would not have been devised if an independent Bermuda did not have to follow Britain’s lead.

The PLP said“ “The Draft Blue Prosperity Plan combines Bermuda’s leadership in conversation with the sustainable development of Bermuda’s Blue Economy for the benefit of the current and future Generation.

“This draft plan has been released for consultation to get feedback from all segments of our community, including our fishermen, so that a final plan can be produced.”

Walter Roban, the Minister of Home Affairs, has frequently championed environmental causes.

Addressing the Bermuda Youth Climate Summit last week, he said he was “passionate” about environmental issues.

He also said that policies such as the Bermuda Ocean Prosperity programme will “most importantly, protect and preserve our environment for future generations”.

In today’s column, Ms Simmons dismissed claims by fishermen that they had been locked out of the consultation process when plans for protection laws were being drawn up.

She said that “considerable effort” was made to collect feedback from commercial fishermen.

She said: “As your Government, we often must make tough decisions, and the most challenging part of our job is when we cannot give everyone what they want.

“That is why we strive so hard to give our people many opportunities and ways to participate in shaping the direction of our country.

“The Government knows it will not always get things perfect, but our hearts are in the right place, and we are working tirelessly in the best interest of our country and our people.”

• This story has been updated to include a response from the PLP which was emailed at 11.16pm yesterday.

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Published December 02, 2022 at 7:58 am (Updated December 02, 2022 at 12:27 pm)

PLP senator blames island’s ‘colonial status’ for controversial fishing plan

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